Australians will have access to a free Covid-19 vaccine at some point in 2021, if trials prove successful, after the government signed a supply and production deal worth $1.7 billion Australian dollars ($1.2 billion) for tens of millions of doses.
Under the agreement, the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and the University of Queensland/CSL will provide at least 84.8 million doses of their potential vaccines, according to an Australian government statement today.
Up to 3.8 million doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive as early as January 2021, the statement added.
The government's deal with the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca was first reported on August 19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the vaccines would be free for Australian citizens.
“There are no guarantees that these vaccines will prove successful, however the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light," he said in the statement.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said that while vaccinations helped save lives, a coronavirus vaccine would not be mandatory.
“While the Government supports immunisation, it is not mandatory and individuals maintain the option to choose not to vaccinate," he said in the statement.
The vaccines: According to the statement, the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has entered Phase 3 trials, the final stage of testing. "To date it has generated strong immune responses, with no significant safety concerns," the release said.
Developed in Australia, the University of Queensland vaccine is already effective in animal models, the statement said, citing the university.